Intentional walk, 30-second limit on challenges among MLB rule changes

On Thursday, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced a number of new rule changes for the 2017 season. Here are those seven changes:

  • The start of a no-pitch intentional walk, allowing the defensive team’s manager to signal a decision to the home plate umpire to intentionally walk the batter. Following the signal of the manager’s intention, the umpire will immediately award first base to the batter.
  • A 30-second limit for a manager to decide whether to challenge a play and invoke replay review. 
  • When a manager has exhausted his challenges for the game, crew chiefs may now invoke replay review for non-home run calls beginning in the eighth inning instead of the seventh inning.
  • A conditional two-minute guideline for replay officials to render a decision on a replay review, allowing various exceptions.
  • A prohibition on the use of any markers on the field that could create a tangible reference system for fielders.
  • An addition to Rule 5.07 formalizes an umpire interpretation by stipulating that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is at least one runner on base, then such an action will be called as a balk under Rule 6.02(a). If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).
  • An amendment to Rule 5.03 requires base coaches to position themselves behind the line of the coach’s box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch. Once a ball is put in play, a base coach is allowed to leave the coach’s box to signal a player so long as the coach does not interfere with play.  

The new intentional walk rule, which will allow free passes without any pitches being thrown, has been much discussed , and now it’s official. As well, the 30-second rule on manager challenges has been an anticipated step, as is the limit on how long replay officials can take. The change to Rule 5.07 noted above may be considered a response to Carter Capps’ much-discussed delivery

No real surprises here, but commissioner Rob Manfred’s continued emphasis on improving pace of play is evident once again. Further steps to this end, however, might be a bit more complicated, as Manfred is starting to get some pushback from players on this front

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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